There has been talk among Republican legislators of either increasing the required threshold for a vote of no confidence in the next House speaker or doing away with the rule altogether. This follows Tuesday’s ousting of Kevin McCarthy from the position.
In January, the California Republican tried to acquire enough support to become the head of the lower chamber. This made him an easy target for expulsion. He struck a deal with conservative Republicans that made it possible for a single lawmaker to introduce a resolution to leave the chair, effectively a vote of no confidence in the speaker. McCarthy’s dismissal was the first time a House speaker had been removed in American history by a motion of this kind.
As the federal government nears the mid-November deadline to prevent a government shutdown, legislative work in the House has ground to a halt due to the lack of an elected speaker.
Next week may bring a vote on who will take the gavel, but divisions over a rule change may make consensus challenging.
Florida Republican Representative Carlos Giménez has said he will not support any candidate who does not commit to changing the rule.
He said on social media that no one could govern effectively while being threatened by extremist hostage-takers.
New York Republican Representative Marc Molinaro voiced concerns about the motion to vacate, saying that it sets a bad precedent and urging the threshold for such a motion to be very high.
Molinaro told reporters on Wednesday that they should reconsider letting a minority of people start a disruptive process.
Before the 2019 election, when the Democrats took control of the House, only a single member was needed to bring a motion to vacate. Then, it required backing the bulk of one group or the other.
In January, McCarthy proposed a quorum of five members to win over conservative dissenters. Some conservatives in his party were disappointed that his proposal fell short of their hopes. McCarthy eventually conceded that a single member should have the power to call for a vote of no confidence.
On Tuesday, all Democratic representatives and eight Republican defectors, led by Florida’s Rep. Matt Gaetz, voted to remove McCarthy from office.
McCarthy ally Rep. Garret Graves voiced concern that Gaetz’s actions would cause substantial turmoil. The Republican from Louisiana has called for a rule change before a new speaker is chosen.
Gaetz has said that the next speaker must uphold the one-vote requirement.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken out, calling House Republicans to drop the measure.